As of today, we are 92 days away from January 1, 2017. I often think in terms of 90 day increments so to me, this means we are a couple days away from the final push for the year. For making your mark on 2016 by making *whatever* change you have been meaning to make. I have been thinking about change for a while. I need to change this or I want to change that. As the saying goes, change is the only constant. It is all around us all the time. I am fortunate that, by-in-large, I like change.
Except when I don’t.
I don’t like change when it is hard. What do you mean I need to give up sugar?!?!?
I don’t like change when it is scary (i.e. deciding to leave the security of a corporate paycheck in 2013).
I don’t like change when it feels extremely, like, this could go really wrong, risky (starting my business).
But here’s the thing – I would rather go through the change, even if it makes me uncomfortable, rather than avoid it and live with the regret of not trying at all. In almost all cases, I usually regret NOT doing something more than going through something challenging.
In order to have real change, I think three basic things need to happen:
- You have to decide that the PAIN of the thing that needs changing is greater than the work of the change itself.
- Do not attempt to make too many changes at once.
- Focusing on the process makes making a change easier
I wanted to start my own business for YEARS. And, for a variety of real and perceived reasons, I didn’t do it. When I finally started my business, it wasn’t because my stars were aligned and everything was in order – far from it. It was because I couldn’t ignore the desire to be an entrepreneur any longer. It was literally nagging me on such a level that I was ready to take the steps to make the dream a reality.
Another way to recognize the PAIN is to make a list of off the negative things that this PAIN is causing you. For example, want to lose weight? List all the negatives things – big and small – being overweight is causing you. List the emotional, mental and physical toll of it. List the monetary consequences. List everything you can think of that is negatively impacting you from not changing. When you look at the list, it makes is far easier to begin the change then stay in the same spot. This technique works for any thing you want to change – In debt? Not leading your team effectively? Struggling with a relationship (personal or professional)?
We all lead busy lives and have multiple priorities and hats that we wear. There is research all over the place that says success in change is when you focus your energy on a specific, measurable, actionable goal, you have a far better chance of achieving it. Too many goals not only makes it difficult to achieve said goals but also is an invitation for a frustrating, miserable experience. Better to hone in on one or two things at a time and master them before moving on to the next thing. As that change becomes a habit, you can incorporate the next logical step. Then the next, and the next.
Socrates had it right when he said “the secret to change is focusing on your energy on not fighting the old but building the new.” Real change doesn’t happen overnight. Focusing on the process keeps you looking forward rather than lamenting about the past. Also, focusing on the process is something you can control where as the past is the past.
So, with a couple days left until we get into the final stretch of 2016, think about that one thing that you want to do different, identify the cost the PAIN is causing you from not changing, and map out your how you are going to tackle that one thing, once and for all.